Bowing to consumer demand to ditch aspartame, PepsiCo will debut Diet Pepsi free of the sweetener in the U.S. later this year, the company confirmed Friday.
"Diet cola drinkers in the U.S. told us they wanted aspartame-free Diet Pepsi and we're delivering," said Seth Kaufman, senior vice president of Pepsi and Flavors Portfolio, PepsiCo North America Beverages, in a release. "We recognize that consumer demand is evolving and we're confident that cola-lovers will enjoy the crisp, refreshing taste of this new product."
Instead of aspartame, Diet Pepsi, Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi will be sweetened with a blend of artificial sweeteners sucralose and acesulfame potassium in the U.S. The new drinks will hit shelves in August.
Diet Pepsi held 4.3 percent of the total carbonated soft drink market in 2014, though its volume shrank 5.2 percent from the year before as customers have pared their consumption of diet heavyweights like Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi and Diet Mountain Dew, trade publication Beverage Digest reported.
The move will set Diet Pepsi apart among top U.S. diet soda brands.
"At this point, all use aspartame or a blend with aspartame," Beverage Digest noted.
Following the news, Pepsi rival Coke said, "There are currently no plans to change the sweetener for Diet Coke..."
"All of the beverages we offer and ingredients we use are safe," the company added in a statement.